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[FYI] (Fwd) Cypherpunks Final Exam
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- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) Cypherpunks Final Exam
- From: "Axel H Horns" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 21:10:58 +0200
- Comment: This message comes from the debate mailing list.
- Organization: PA Axel H Horns
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------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 07:14:55 -0500
From: Robert Hettinga <email@example.com>
Subject: Cypherpunks Final Exam
[I would not normally forward this along -- it isn't, by my lights,
interesting enough. However, the vision of #11 is so astounding to me
(even though I suppose it shouldn't be) that I felt I had to pass the
whole thing along so that it would be in context. --Perry]
--- begin forwarded text
Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 13:20:02 -0800 (PST)
From: BPM Mixmaster Remailer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Cypherpunks Final Exam
Reply-To: BPM Mixmaster Remailer <email@example.com>
This is from http://www.skyhunter.com/marcs/finalexam.html, by
Marc Stiegler, sci-fi author and a pretty smart guy. Should be a
required test for those who want to call themselves cypherpunks.
This is a slightly modified version of the Final Exam I recently gave
to a class of college students taking a special advanced course on The
Future Of Computing. A number of friends to whom I showed it suggested
that it might be a good Final Exam for people considering passing
thousands of new laws and regulations, to make sure that the Web is
"safe", and to eliminate the "Wild West nature" of the Web. If you can
answer all these questions, you probably know why thousands of new
laws are not the right way to make the Web "safe".
A new version of the Web springs to life with the following enhanced
Unforgeable pseudonymous identities
Bidirectional, typed, filterable links
Capability Based Security with Strong Encryption
Pick any 5 of the essay questions below. Identify which advanced
features listed above are needed to solve each problem, and explain
how those features would work together.
Note: I doubt that anyone will choose Question 11 as one of their 5
questions to answer, because it requires a far more extensive answer
than the others. But...if you can answer Question 11 in your own mind,
even though you choose not to write up that answer for this
examination, then a most remarkable thing will happen: you will walk
out of this class with something profoundly worth knowing.
1) Searching for a decision analysis tool on the Web, you find a
review in which the reviewer raves about a particular product. You buy
the product and discover it just doesn't work. You desire to prevent
this person's ravings from harming anyone else--and you desire to
prevent the product from disappointing anyone else.
2) A product you buy based on a rave review opens your email address
book, grabs your entire list of friends, sends itself to them, and
sends your password files to a mysterious IP address. It's too late
now, but which features would you install before ever touching your
3) A product is advertised on the Web. It sounds good, but the offerer
has no Web reputation. What arrangement would you consider adequate to
go ahead and procure the product (Note: there are several possible
answers; give 2 entirely separate solutions, and that is considered
answering 2 questions).
4) You start receiving thousands of emails from organizations you
don't know, all hawking their wares. You want it to stop, just stop!
5) You wish to play poker with your friends. They live in Tampa
Florida, you live in Kingman. This is illegal in the nation where you
happen to be a citizen. You want to do it anyway.
6) You hear a joke that someone, somewhere, would probably find
offensive. You wish to tell your precocious 17-year-old daughter, who
is a student at Yale. The Common Decency Act Version 2 has just
passed; it is a $100,000 offense to send such material electronically
to a minor. You want to send it anyway--it is a very funny joke.
7) Someone claiming to be you starts roaming the Web making wild
claims. You want to make sure people know it isn't really you.
8) You have brought out a remarkable new product. There is a competing
product making claims you know are false. You want to make sure anyone
going to their site finds out your product is better.
9) Your elderly aunt sees a drug advertised on the Web that promises
relief from arthritis. She dies shortly after starting to take the
drug. You think the drug, and the company that made it, is at fault.
Meanwhile the company is sure they didn't have anything to do with it.
You want justice.
10) You are the CEO of Bloomberg News, one of the most prestigious
(and expensive) stock information services in the world. An article
circulates on the Web, based on a mock-up of the Bloomberg News
information page, claiming that PairGain Corp. will be acquired by ECI
Telecom. PairGain stock rises 32% in 8 hours. Investigators later find
that the false report was created by a PairGain employee about to cash
in his options. You want to ensure that your brand is never used like
11) You live in North Korea. Three days ago the soldiers came to your
tiny patch of farmland and took the few scraps of food they hadn't
taken the week before. You have just boiled the last of your shoes and
fed the softened leather to your 3-year-old child. She coughs, a
sickly sound that cannot last much longer. Overhead you hear the drone
of massive engines. You look into the sky, and thousands of tiny
packages float down. You pick one up. It is made of plastic; you
cannot feed it to your daughter. But the device talks to you, is solar
powered, and teaches you how to use it to link to the Web. You have
all the knowledge of the world at your fingertips; you can talk to
thousands of others who share your desperate fate. The time has come
to solve your problem in the most fundamental sense, and save the life
of your daughter.
--- end forwarded text
Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/> 44
Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA "... however it may deserve
respect for its usefulness and antiquity, [predicting the end of the
world] has not been found agreeable to experience." -- Edward Gibbon,
'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
------- End of forwarded message -------